An arcane rule might have allowed President Barack Obama to place federal judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court, but the president didn't give it a try.
According to The Washington Times, Obama could have put Garland on the bench during the "intersession recess," described as the time between when the presiding officer of the Senate gavels out the 114th Congress and gavels in the 115th.
Activists reportedly urged Obama to take the subversive action, which would have angered Republicans who stymied his efforts to appoint a new Supreme Court justice for nearly an entire year since the February death of Antonin Scalia.
William G. Ross, a law professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, told The Washington Times that Obama would have been working within the law by appointing Garland in such a manner, but it would have been “politically unwise and damaging to the prestige of the court.”
“It would exacerbate acute political tensions that have roiled the transition process and promise turbulence from the very start of the Trump administration, and it would contribute to the growing public perception that the court is unduly political,” Ross said.
Obama opted not to ruin the “prestige of the court” and, according to The Wall Street Journal, Garland's nomination expired on Jan. 3.
President-elect Donald Trump will now pick the next Supreme Court justice.
“I’ve been clear throughout that the next president would name the next Supreme Court justice,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said through a spokesman. “Now, the president who won the election will make the nomination, and the Senate the American people just re-elected will consider that nomination.”